Effects of Mixing Interaction Types on Ecological Community Stability
In the last years, a remarkable theoretical effort has been made in order to understand stability and complexity in ecological communities. The non-random structures of real ecological interaction networks has been recognized as one key ingredient contributing to the coexistence between high complexity and stability in real ecosystems. However most of the theoretical studies have considered communities with only one interaction type (either antagonistic, competitive, or mutualistic). Recently it has been proposed a theoretical analysis on multiple interaction types in ecological systems, concluding that: a) Mixture of antagonistic and mutualistic interactions stabilize the system with respect to the less realistic case of only one interaction type; b) Complexity, measured in terms of the number of interactions and the number of species, increases stability in systems with different types of interactions. By introducing new theoretical investigations and analyzing 21 empirical data sets representing mutualistic plant-pollinator networks, we show that that conclusions are incorrect. We will prove that the positive complexity-stability effect observed in systems with different kind of interactions is a mere consequence of a rescaling of the interaction strengths, and thus unrelated to the mixing of interaction types.